Merski, Harkins: Nearly $900,000 secured to support area business

Will fund Innovation Beehive Network projects

ERIE, March 3 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins today announced $896,000 in new grant funding to expand support for Erie businesses served by the Innovation Beehive Network – a partnership among Erie universities and the Erie County Public Library that provides specialized services to area businesses and entrepreneurs.

The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding – awarded by the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority – includes $200,000 each to Edinboro University Foundation, Gannon University, Mercyhurst University and Penn State University and $96,000 to Erie Regional Library Foundation.

“Erie’s reputation as a favorable business destination has been expanding nationally thanks in part to innovative partnerships like the Beehive Network, which provide specialized services to help young businesses grow,” Merski said. “The network already has a track record of success thanks to the talented folks involved. Today’s funding will help it continue to grow so it can attract and serve more businesses.”

Harkins said, “Our library and universities have amazing resources and talented people committed to this network. I’m excited about today’s funding, which is going to enhance those resources and strengthen the collaborative as a whole. Like all startups, the young businesses served by the beehive face special financial and logistical challenges and can use all the help we can provide. This new investment broadens and further diversifies that support.”

Projects supported by the grants include Edinboro University Foundation’s PennWest Edinboro Beehive; Erie Regional Library Foundation’s Idea Lab and Support Services; Gannon University’s NWPA Innovative Beehive; Mercyhurst University’s NWPA Beehive; and Penn State University’s project, “Leveraging the Impact and Strength of Meehl Innovation Commons.”

Founded in 2014, the Innovation Beehive Network is a partnership involving Allegheny College, Erie County Public Library, Gannon University, Mercyhurst University, Penn State Behrend and PennWest Edinboro. Each of the network’s sites is responsible for a specific service.